Letter from Ralph Vaughan Williams to Maud Karpeles

Letter No.: 
[autumn 1939]

From R. Vaughan Williams,
The White Gates,
Westcott Road,

Daer Maud
(wartime economy paper!)
Yes of course refer to me - you ought to get a good job
I have not one at present - & I don't want to leave Dorking or to be away at night. In an air raid I think my first duty wd be to see my own household safe in to our "night club"
(2 on next sheet)
As reagrds doing "creative" work I shall see how that comes along - I may do it just to keep my mind occupied (at present I am writing an essay on the 9th symphony!!!).1 What I advise young composers is - Have a "useful" job & then that will free your mind at other times for your own thoughts
(Turn back to other sheet - wartime economy!)
Raymond Duncan2 used to say that 'a man must first provide his living' (he meant it, of course, in a literal sense planting potatoes etc - we may get to that eventually) & then devote yourself to the spiritual things. 'Providing ones living'at present includes to my mind helping to win the war to provide a propoer settlement afterwards - beacuse, otherwise, we shall have no living.
At present I have no  "useful" job - I did not rush around at first offering my services for things I was obviously unfit to do - I think the job for everyone will come in time.
Nevertheless it is difficult in these days to belong to a "useless" profession - Even an artist can do commonplace
Love from

1. Eventually published as Some thoughts on Beethoven's Choral Symphony with writings on other musical subjects (Oxford University Press, 1953).
2. Raymond Duncan was an American artist, poet, dancer and philosopher.

Location of original letter:

Shelfmark of original letter: 
MS Mus. 1714/2/3/2, ff. 55-56
General notes: 

Date from VW's writing, which says it was written in autumn 1939 'when we older people found our normal occupation gone and were not yet wanted for any other'.